Attention to detail key when dealing with big data

Big data has the potential to improve healthcare in many ways, but too much information could become unmanageable for the industry, according to John Mattison, chief medical information officer at Kaiser Permanente.

Mattison, who spoke at the Big Data & Healthcare Analytics Forum last month in Boston, said many traditional data scientists are extremely worried about the dangers of big data, according to an article at

It is difficult for healthcare professionals to make sense of data without getting buried by it, and if the data is uncertain or incomplete, that increases the challenges of managing it, Mattison said.

"You can get into a lot of trouble not paying attention to the details, the metadata," Mattison said.

Data integrity due to incorrect or missing data in electronic health records and other health IT systems is near the top of ECRI Institute's list of health technology hazards, FierceHealthIT recently reported.

However, despite that, patients are increasingly willing to share their data with researchers and providers. Sixty-eight percent of respondents to a recent Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll said they would be OK with sharing their health data.

But data alone won't be what creates better care, Mattison said, adding that health IT also demands open APIs to "tie together the ecosystem."

In addition, there must be a better approach controlling data--a system that uses metadata to break down silos of information from many sources, according to the article. To do this, Mattison suggests there should be a data concierge, someone who is an expert in datasets and their origins and can be a go-to resource.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently took a step in that direction, hiring a chief data officer to run its newly created Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics.

To learn more:
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